- Post is under moderationTALES OF THE UNEXPECTED Wild supercharged E90 M3
Karel Silha’s M3 has been evolving for a few years, getting ever madder and more frightening. As he teeters on the cusp of his next round of innovations, we pin down his green monster to see just how deeply this lunacy has spiraled… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
840HP E90 M3 Supercharged wide-arch beast
The most fun cars are the ones that do surprising things; ones that subvert your expectations and lead your preconceptions down a hitherto uncharted path. We’re not talking about sleepers here – that’s a well-documented area, and a whole textbook in itself. No, what’s flicking our switch today is the idea of using a novel base to build something devastating. Like when Top Gear commissioned Lotus to build a trackslaying Lada, and the Norfolk spannertwiddlers ended up throwing £100k at it. Or when Volvo entered the BTCC in the 1990s with an 850 estate. These are not the logical cars to choose for such endeavours, which is what makes the whole concept so eminently desirable.
So it is with Karel Silha’s M3. He wanted to build an unstoppable and terrifying car with which to distort reality in the otherworldly and near-mythical amphitheatre of the now-world-renowned Gatebil events, so he chose to go with an M3. Fair play, sound reasoning, we can see why you’d do that But, just for the sake of waving two fingers at the rest of the paddock, he didn’t take the obvious route and buy himself an E92 coupé. He chose the sensible, dad-spec E90 fourdoor saloon.
Alright, we’ll immediately retract ‘sensible, dad-spec’, that’s a moronic way to describe a machine as formidable as the E90 – but you have to admit that the act of deliberately choosing a car with extra doors you know you’re never going to use is something only a belligerent and confrontational person would do. It’s Touring Car rules; you’ve got four doors so that people spectating can relate your car to their own salesman-spec diesel commuter. Karel’s just cranked things up a notch, simply to be mischievous. Oh, those effervescently zany Swedes…
“My first car was a Toyota Starlet,” he explains, which is actually something we hear a lot. A surprising number of skilled helmsmen cut their teeth in that balletic Japanese poppet, it must teach its drivers an awful lot about car control. “I’ve been working with BMWs for about 12 or 13 years now though. My first was an E30, which I wanted to turn into a bit of turbocharged weekend fun. Most of my BMWs have been E30s in fact; the most recent one was making 982hp and 887lb ft on an old M20 engine.”
It’s probably safe to assume that this fella knows what he’s doing when it comes to perving over BMWs then. However, the E90 is a world apart from the E30 (just look at the maths, it’s 60 #BMW Top Trump points adrift), so this little race car project was always going to be something of a challenge, right? No, not a bit of it. Karel’s the sort of chap who just knuckles down and gets on with it and there’s no half-measures here. Allin or nothing.
“I wanted to do fast lap times and the goal was to be quick,” he says, with hilarious modesty and masterful understatement. “With that in mind, there was only one chassis that was suitable for this: the E90 M3. So I bought the car from a friend – it was in really good condition, aside from the engine, which was trashed. One of the rods had found its way out…” But with the plans that Karel had made, a blown motor was an irrelevance. Stock engines aren’t Gatebil fodder. It was always the gameplan to tear the motor apart and beef everything up like Meat Loaf in an Angus Steakhouse.
“Yes, the whole build was fully mapped out from the start,” he assures us. “We even drew up 3D renderings of how it would look when it was finished. The plan was always clear.” Oh, and what a plan it was. With ruthless efficiency and the sort of clockwork dominance of the to-do list that you normally find in school staff rooms, Karel and his crew set about ripping the E90 to shreds and building it back up as an apex-humiliating, spectator-arousing beast.
“In the first year, we dealt with the chassis,” he says. “KW three-way competition suspension, and also a big brake upgrade from Endless, to get the chassis fully dialled-in. We’d initially talked to a local company about our suspension options, and the support was terrible, so we ended up talking to KW suspension in Germany. They answered all of our questions in one email and the support was just above and beyond, so it was a no-brainer to go with KW! They made a custom three-way competition kit for us, and those guys have been a strong partner ever since.”
With the chassis tested and thoroughly proven, the second year of the E90 build threw up some proper mischief. “In year two we did the forged engine,” says Karel, “and then we supercharged it – and this was no off-the-shelf kit, it was the biggest setup ESS could make for us. We ended up with 840hp, and we also upgraded the ECU to a full Motec setup, with PDM [Power Distribution Module], dash and ECU. We fitted a Samsonas sequential gearbox with paddleshift too.” Phew. Time to take a breath, drink in the magnificence of the spec, and just have a little think about our own life choices. Stick the kettle on for some pondering time, we’ll see you at the next paragraph.
Better? We know, it’s a lot to take in. But brace yourselves, as there’s a little more to come. You see, it would have been amusingly stealthy to jam all of this sweaty grunt into a stock-looking four-door shell, but stealth has never been the Swedish forced induction enthusiasts’ watchword. So what you’re seeing here is a searing vision in Snakeskin Green, a Dodge Viper colour no less, and to prove that this build isn’t just about dumb horsepower there’s a frankly staggering aero setup. Just look at the frickin’ size of that rear diffuser, for goodness’ sake! And the front splitter’s big enough to stand a family of six upon, let alone allowing them all to have a little nap on the rear wing. This thing may have enough horsepower to make a Bugatti owner think twice, but it’s also glued to the track by the crushing inevitability of downforce. It’s actually kinda frightening. Another hugely impressive element of this build is just how stock that S65 motor is, aside from the comically large blower. It’s got forged pistons and rods from Pure Performance Motorsport in Australia, and a suitably juiced-up fuelling system feeding through a Weldon 2345 pump (which is good for 1300hp!), but aside from that it’s pretty much as the M Division intended. Talk about over-engineering, eh?
Still, there was a global vibe developing in this Swedish-honed, German-built car with Australian engine upgrades and Japanese interior addenda, so it only made sense for the rolling stock to come from somewhere unexpected too. That’s why you’ll find a set of Work VS-XX wheels under those widened carbon fibre arches – custom-built wheels from Japan. And the rears are a spanking 12.5” wide, which allows for some seriously dirty contact patch. “We wanted a wheel that could match the rest of the car,” Karel reasons, “and Work Wheels were the only choice for a quality wide wheel.” Having hand-crafted his own bruising arches, we’ll happily take his word for that.
“Function over form was the overarching idea,” he continues. “The look has always been secondary to the act of going fast. The chassis’s actually being modified for a Version 3 that we’ll be debuting soon, but yes – the capability has always been more important than the look.” This statement, of course, writes a very large cheque, as the car looks absolutely phenomenal. Thankfully, we know that the setup can cash it with ease. “I’d say my favourite element of the build is all the carbon fibre,” Karel grins. “When you start with carbon, you kinda get the fever and it’s hard to stop! For 2017 most of the car will be in carbon fibre, and for 2018 a new chassis is being built with even more mods and 100% carbon.” Blimey. 100% is a big percentage. We’ll report back as the news filters in.
“It took some five-to-six months to build the first version of the car,” he says, “then it evolved over the off-season; 2015 Version 1, 2016 Version 2, and 2017 is Version 2.1. Just wait – 2018 will bring it up to Version Badass.” We can’t wait to see that. But for now, let’s just bask in the unutterable lunacy of Version 2.1 – the as-yet ultimate evolution of your neighbour’s four-door 3 Series, built to tear up Gatebil and atomise any rubber that may stray into its workshop. The fact that it’s not a coupé just makes the flawless victories all the sweeter. ¬
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E90 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E90 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #ESS-supercharger / #ESS / #BMW / #Work / #MoTeC-ECU
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #BMW-S65 / #S65 , fully-forged, custom #ESS-supercharger-kit , 1000cc injectors and uprated fuelling with #Weldon 2345 pump, #Motec engine management. #Samsonas six-speed sequential gearbox
CHASSIS 11x18” (front) and 12.5x18” (rear) #Work-VS-XX wheels with 305/35 (front) and 335/35 (rear) tyres, #KW three-way competition suspension, #Endless race brake setup with six-pot calipers (front and rear) with 355mm (front) and 345mm (rear) discs
EXTERIOR Dodge Viper Snakeskin Green, wide steel rear wings and plastic-welded M3 front wings – now remoulded in carbon fibre, Gatebil-sized custom wing, splitter and diffuser
INTERIOR Sparco seats, Takata harnesses, OMP steering wheel, custom cluster by Karel S Motorsport, paddle shifters, full painted FIA rollcage
THANKS All of my friends who helped, especially to Tim and Jens, and also all of my sponsors last year and also the new ones for 2017 – it would not have been possible without them
No air-ride here, just air jacks.
The rear view is dominated by that custom diffuser.
Fully-painted FIA roll-cage.
“Function over form was the overarching idea, the look has always been secondary to the act of going fast”
MOTEC engine management keeps things running right.
Sparco seats with Takata harnesses up front.
MoTeC C127 Race Display behind OMP steering wheel.
Custom ESS supercharger kit makes 840hp.
“In year two we did the forged engine and then we supercharged it [with] the biggest setup ESS could make for us. We ended up with 840hp”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSafety First 650hp supercharged E90 M3.
Safety cars are always in front – they have to be, they’re there to back the pack up. But in the case of this raucous tribute, it’s in front because nobody else can keep up… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Speedyshots.
THUNDERSTRUCK 650hp #G-Power supercharged E90 M3
Safety cars, or pace cars, have always been a little bit naughty. This makes perfect sense, as they need to be inherently fast and capable machines if they’re going to have any hope of taming a pack of wild racing machines. Sending a farty old Lada out into a field of DTM tearaways would be the very antithesis of ‘safety’.
On the face of it, they’re a necessary evil in motorsport; they break up the action, they slow things down. They’re sent out to haul up the pack when there’s debris to be cleared up or a surprise monsoon has suddenly presented itself, and there’s a natural perceptual bias against them in the eyes of the fans in that, no matter how fast or formidable they may be, they are – by virtue of why they exist – the slowest things on the track.
This, of course, is all rather unfair on the poor beleaguered safety car. But fear not – there’s a groundswell subculture that celebrates these often-iconic creations, championing them for their mighty performance as much as the vital role they play in keeping motorsport ticking. This kind of thing’s been going on since the first appearance of a safety car in the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, while the first example in Formula One – a Porsche 914 – appeared in 1973. Classic NASCAR pace cars have taken on a life of their own as collectors’ items, and arguably the most popular safety cars of recent times are the BMWs used in MotoGP. 2016’s weapon of choice was the shiny new M2, and the series has variously used the M5, M6, X6 M and numerous others; each one has offered aggression in spades and, as you’d expect from an M car, blistering performance. All you need to keep a bunch of wildheart racing drivers safe!
This E90, then, is a tribute to BMW’s keenness to push the envelope of safety car desirability: a four-door missile, caricaturised in all the right places to create something that’s frankly rather quicker and scarier than quite a lot of race cars – or, indeed, race bikes. This project is the brainchild of Karl Jungmayer, who regular readers will remember as the mastermind behind our January 2017 cover car – a 1 Series with a V10 violently shoved into it. The third Karl in line within a #BMW garage in the sleepy enclave of Geiselhöring, southwest Germany (his grandfather, Karl, set it up; he passed it down to his son, Karl, and it then transferred to the incumbent Karl), he spends his days doing unseemly and frankly unhinged things to powerful cars with Bavarian propeller badges. And as bases for project cars go, you can’t really miss the target if you’re starting off with an E90 M3… You’ve got 420hp right out of the box, a sublime chassis and more ingrained passion than you could possibly know what to do with.
Unless you’re someone like Karl, that is. He knows exactly what to do with it. Refract it through a filter of insanity, collect the ensuing scattered beams of light, compress them into a diamond of pure retribution, and throw it full in the face of the tuning scene. “BMW is my life, my family, my hobby, that’s why they’re so special to me,” he says. “I’ve owned a lot of them, and they’ve all had modifications. And for this project? Well, I’m a big fan of the MotoGP, and I’m also a big fan of the E90 M3, so it made sense to combine the two.” There you are, that’s about as complicated as it needs to be. “It’s effectively my interpretation of a MotoGP safety car, with more power and bigger wheels!,” he grins.
That, we reckon, is the best kind of safety car, so let’s look at that power issue first. You see, while the formidable S65 4.0-litre V8 would be mighty enough for many, Karl merely saw this as a starting block, and got on the blower to G-Power to chew over the perennial carnival affair of forced induction. The result was the acquisition and subsequent modification of an SK II CS supercharger kit, a Stage 2 setup that requires its own chargecooler system as well as, of course, plonking a hilarious mass of orange mischief right there on top of the engine like some kind of malevolent jellyfish. characteristics of BMW’s own work, rather than to radically alter and transmogrify, offering (on paper, at least) a broadly similar feel to a standard car, but amplified by several orders of magnitude.
This, however, wasn’t enough for Karl. Too much is never enough. So you’ll also find another mischievous embodiment of modern high-octane lunacy under that freshly-stickered bonnet, in the form of a Snow Performance water/methanol injection kit. The science of this is to reduce inlet temperatures by up to a 100ºC, markedly increase fuel efficiency, eliminate detonation, and ultimately increase peak power by around 20%. Which is all good fun. It basically achieves this by squirting a finely atomised mist of water/methanol mix into the combustion chambers at just the right time in the fuelling cycle for tiny rabbits to be pulled out of hats and all manner of fi reworks to go off. So how does 650hp grab you? By the lapels, that’s how, and it shakes you around all over the place like a damn ragdoll. Just look what it’s doing to Karl’s rear tyres, for goodness’ sake.
You’ll be pleased to note that all of this effervescent combustion tomfoolery is being channelled through a manual gearbox – six on the floor, maximum attack – and the interior has come in for a racy makeover. “It’s got the BMW M Performance seats, pedals and steering wheel,” Karl points out, “and there’s also a Wiechers rollcage, which has been colour-matched in Alpine White.” The insides are neatly fused with the exterior aesthetic, and what an exterior it is; the E90’s lines are naturally brutalist, masterfully combining four-door sensibleness with the sort of cartoonish proportions that make it look like a bodypumped bouncer in a slightly-too-small suit, and Karl’s taken all of this to the next level with an authentic-looking set of MotoGP Safety Car decals. It is, for all intents and purposes, the real deal. Well, the real deal plus 50% or so, really. And it does make for a hilariously imposing presence on the road – think about it: if you’re dressing up a project car in a tribute livery, it is – for fairly obvious reasons – unlawful to mimic the look of a police car or, say, an ambulance. But a motorsport safety car? Sure, that’s pretty much fair game. And no-one will be suspecting the utterly, unspeakably vast quantities of extra horsepower that this canny tuner has shoved into it. At least, not until the lights turn green.
“The car is so powerful,” he muses, thoughtfully, “I like this car.” Coming from a man with a V10-powered 1 Series in his stable, alongside heavily tweaked F11s, E46s, E61s and a whole lot more, this is a stirring (if modestly stated) sentiment. “It does need more power though,” he adds, decisively. “And more boost.”
But of course. We couldn’t expect anything less from a man like Karl. Just remember – however nuts this car becomes, it’s a safety car, it’s there for your protection. If you see him up ahead of you, you’d better not attempt an overtake – although the reasons for that on the road may be very different to those on the race track…
“As bases for project cars go, you can’t really miss the target if you’re starting off with an E90 M3”
“BMW is my life, my family, my hobby, that’s why they’re so special to me”
DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E90 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E90 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E90 / #S65-Supercharged / #G-Power / #Breyton-GTS / #Breyton-Race / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , modified #G-Power-SK-II-CS supercharger kit with #Snow-Performance water/ #methanol-injection , custom home-made exhaust system. Six-speed manual gearbox
POWER and torque 650hp, 485lb ft
CHASSIS 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) #Breyton-GTS-Race wheels, 15mm spacers, 245/30 (front) and 295/25 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, #Brembo eightpot #BBK (front), stock E90 M3 brakes (rear)
EXTERIOR M3 CRT front spoiler with carbon fibre flaps, carbon fibre rear spoiler and diffuser, E90 LCI taillights, Safety Car livery
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance seats, pedals and steering wheel, #Wiechers rollcageStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationEdison Hwang’s E92 M3, the ‘Gold Dragon’, fuses shouty V8 thrills with a track-ready chassis; it’s a lightweight carbon fibre racing terror with a comfy interior for the journey home. And it’s won a ridiculous number of trophies… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: LopezArts.
ENTER THE DRAGON
Carbon-kitted E92 M3
To understand the ethos behind this rather outrageous E92 M3, you must first get to grips with the conceptual difference between wet and dry carbon fibre. The former is what most people would picture when they hear talk of carbon parts – the glossy stuff has an epoxy either painted onto or vacuum-infused into the woven strands; it’s strong, light, and cheaper to produce than dry carbon. But the dry stuff is the next-level formula – more costly to make, but around 70% lighter while being just as strong, each specific weave being epoxy-coated while it’s crafted. So it doesn’t have the glass-like sheen of a Halfords gear knob, but it’s far superior as a functional material. And if you scale up this sense of focus to a whole car-sized entity, you arrive presently at this golden E92.
Now, this is a car with an identity crisis. A balls-to-the-wall track car, but still a proper M3 with quality interior appointments and a clear sense of the fusion of luxury and performance. Just look at the colour for evidence of this conflict – this car has been custom-painted in a rich and vibrant shade of Ferrari Rosso Scuderia paint. But you don’t know it, because it’s hiding under a vinyl wrap in lurid Candy Lime. This, it’s fair to say, is a machine with tales to tell.
Its owner, Edison Hwang, has one or two stories of his own as well. “I’ve been into BMWs since I was about thirteen years old,” he explains. “The whole journey’s been a kinda crazy story. As a car guy and a mechanic, I love the power of the M3 and the way it handles, and there’s just no logical reason for me not to modify it. When I started changing up this car, I made a lot of new friends – my Timeless Motor Group – and now we always go to events together and help each other out. And the real turning point was when we went to SEMA in 2013: arriving at the Las Vegas Convention Center, seeing all those top-flight builds from all over the world, I had a voice in my head saying that I had to build a car worthy of this show.”
With a mesmerising swirl of images circling through his subconscious from that epochdefining show, Edison put careful thought into pinpointing just what his ideal spec would be, before rolling up his sleeves and diving headfirst into the project. At the top of the wish list was Vorsteiner’s dry carbon fibre GTRS3 wide body kit, comprising beefed up wings, bumpers, rear quarters, bonnet and ducktail boot all in the revered and magical weave. “It was fitted at Blanco Services in Maryland,” he says, “and it took six months to get the fitment perfect! Moulding the rear quarters, custommaking the arch liners, making uniform shut lines, and painting it all in Ferrari red.
It’s really a lot of work to make it perfect show car quality, and after the wide body was complete I added more details to the car, including the APR racing spoiler, APR front splitter (which I take off for regular street driving, due to height issues), bumper canards, DTM-style side mirrors, and carbon fibre parts everywhere.”
Those of you familiar with SEMA builds will know that you’re not even going to make it through the door if your car’s all show and no go; the very nature of the event dictates that cars represent a holistic approach to aftermarket modifying and, as brutally rapid as a stock M3 is, standard powertrains are a definite no-no. “The car used to run an Active Autowerk Stage 3 supercharger,” says Edison, “but I actually decided to remove it right after I showed my car at SEMA 2014, since I love the sound of the NA S65 engine.”
So now that glorious V8 rumbles unforced as BMW intended, but augmented boisterously by a supremely intelligent exhaust system specifically tailored to bellow out an F1 howl. Back when the wide body conversion was underway, Edison had plenty of time for his mind to wander. Six months is a long stretch. So it’s unsurprising that the car found itself treated to a diverse platter of additional treats during this period; a roll cage and a set of custom-built headlights being chief among its fresh new trinkets. A GT wing topped off the exterior, while inside was adorned with a pair of Status Racing seats and a veritable festival of dry carbon goodies. The M3 was given a name – ‘Red Dragon’ – and it scooped up an armful of awards on its first outing.
Rolling into the Carlisle Performance and Style Car Show in Pennsylvania, all eyes turned; rolling back out again afterwards, the Dragon was toting trophies for Best BMW, Best Paint and Finish, and Best in Show. Not bad. But that was just for starters…
“It started winning ‘Best in Show’ at every event I took it to, the judges nicknamed it ‘Competition Killer’,” Edison smirks. “But I knew it still wasn’t a SEMA car, there was more work to be done. So I put more effort in, changed a few things, and finally earned a place on the Rohana Wheels stand. My dream had come true, all the effort was worth it.” But success, it’s often said, is like a drug. We can’t all be Nico Rosberg, achieving the perceived pinnacle of our aspirations and saying ‘OK, I’m done now’. Having tasted the sweet tang of success, Edison was all-in for more. “I wanted to go back to SEMA the next year,” he grins, “and that meant changing a lot of things again.”
A helpful career turn arrived at this point, with Edison joining the Rolloface Performance Inc. family, and this pushed him to level-up to the next great thing. This was when the mighty big brake kit came, and a Rolloface driver’s seat, and various DTM touches, and… then he crashed the car in New York City. Or rather, someone crashed into the back of it in heavy traffic. Game over for the season, the car was done showing for the foreseeable future. Dark times for a trophy addict, but did this leave Edison downhearted? No! (Well, yes obviously… but not for long.) His resolve hardened, he worked more tenaciously to create a scenebreaking E92, the like of which the world had never seen.
“It was ready for SEMA later that year,” he smiles, playfully slapping fate across the chops with his mighty gauntlet of skill. “Fixed up better than new and with fresh custom parts, I decided at the last minute to wrap it in an acid yellow-green.” An inspired decision, this, since everyone would be expecting that Ferrari red to make another appearance. This game is not won by playing to people’s expectations. “There it was, the ‘Gold Dragon’. A new roll cage went in at the last minute, there was more of an aggressive racing style – the car certainly got a lot of attention.” And, as you’d probably logically assumed, Edison didn’t close the book on the M3 there. This car has always been, and will always be, about being harder, better, faster, stronger. He’s owned it since it was brand new, and it’s pretty safe to say that the warranty evaporated long ago, but ardent petrolheads care not for such trivialities.
“The M3 really is the ultimate driving machine, and the naturally aspirated V8 suits it so well,” he says. “It was always the intention to turn it into a car like no-one else had. At the moment it’s running Rolloface Performance ZR-1 forged three-piece wheels, which are really strong and lightweight, as well as Rolloface Performance three-way coilovers, and I’ve upgraded all of the chassis components to race-spec – I just love the handling that race parts provide! The big brake kit’s probably my favourite mod on the car, as it provides incredible performance on track as well as looking fantastic, but I also really love the functional nature of the carbon body parts.” And that’s pretty much where we came in – that form-meets-function quality of dry carbon fibre.
Edison’s got plans for the M3, in the form of a new custom diffuser, Ferrari F12 rain light, carbon intake system and so on, and the keystone of all he does is this: quality speaks for itself. You may see a lot of wet carbon cars at your local meet, but if you want to get into SEMA, it’s a dry carbon state of mind. “I believe that if you do something sincerely, the whole world will help you,” he says. And we certainly wouldn’t want to argue with that.
/ #Carbon-Fibre / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-Carbon-Fibre / #BMW-M3-Carbon-Fibre-E92 / #Akrapovic-Delete-R / #Akrapovic / Akrapovic / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 / #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Rolloface racing intake system, custom oil cooler and transmission cooler, Macht Schnell Performance underdrive pulleys, #Kreissieg titanium floating curl tail exhaust with cat-back F1-sound valvetronic system, Macht Schnell bypass track pipes, Akrapovič Delete-R, tuning by Frank Smith Custom Tune. Seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 10x19” ET0 (front) and 12x19” ET-40 (rear) #Rolloface-ZR-1 three-piece forged wheels in gloss black with titanium bolts and 275/30 (front) and 325/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres, #Macht-Schnell wheel studs, Project-Kics-R40 open-end black chrome wheel nuts, #Rolloface-RT-3 Competition Racing three-way adjustable coilovers, custom-rate #Swift springs, #Macht-Schnell electronic dampening control emulation module, #Bimmerworld adjustable rear toe arm set, adjustable rear wishbone set (camber adjustable), spherical rear guiding link set, trailing link bearing set, rear camber arm bearing kit and spherical front race arm conversion, #Rolloface-SR-C big brake kit with eight-piston (front) and six-piston (rear) yellow powder coated forged aluminium calipers and 380mmx32mm slotted high-carbon discs (front and rear), Rolloface Performance stainless steel brake lines (f&r), Pagid-Racing RST race brake pads (f&r), Motul RBF 600 Factory Line brake fluid
EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner-GTRS3 dry carbon fibre kit comprising front bumper, front lip, wide-arch front wings, side skirts, wide-arch rear quarters, rear bumper, bonnet and CSL-style boot lid, APA Gloss Candy Lime vinyl-wrap (with custom Ferrari Rosso Scuderia paint underneath), AeroCatch 120-2100 locking system, AutoTecknic carbon fibre wing grilles and bonnet vents, BMW M Performance black kidney grilles, Macht Schnell Motorsport tow straps, #APR-Racing-GT-250 dry carbon fibre GT wing, Rolloface custom dry carbon fibre chassis-mount front splitter, M4 #DTM-style front canards, mirrors, aero panel under chassis and rear diffuser, front lower grille painted gloss black with BMW M logo, AutoTecknic 24 SMD LED indicators, OSS Design Raptor M4 DTM-style square angel eyes with LCI inner eyebrow, white LED side-markers, Jet Black blackout and M inner logos
INTERIOR BMW M Performance Version 2 steering wheel, #BMW-M-Performance aluminium pedals and footrest, #BMW rear sunshade, BMW LED door projectors, custom dry carbon fibre shift paddles and airbag emblem, AutoTecknic carbon fibre steering wheel trim, #Storm-Motorwerks V1 titanium PVD coated handbrake handle, Awron DGA 20-in-1 gauge with Kompressor 1 option, Rolloface dry carbon fibre interior trim kit, Rolloface custom track roll cage powder coated in matt gunmetal grey, #Rolloface dry carbon fibre driver’s race seat, Status Racing custom Spa passenger seat trimmed in leather with bespoke stitching, red Schroth Racing PROFI II ASM FE four-point cam-lock harnesses, Vorsteiner mats, racing fire extinguisher, LED interior lights
THANKS #Rolloface-Performance , #Toyo-Tires , #Meguiars , #CSF-Radiators , #OSS-Designs , #Schroth-Racing , #Pagid , #Swift-Springs , #APR-Racing , #Motul-USA , #Blanco-Services , #RRT-Racing , #Tuning-Tech-by-Frank-SmithStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation
LIBERTY WALK M3 Wild Australian E92
Walk This Way
A Japanese body kit on a European car with American suspension screwed together by an Australian equals something pretty bloody special. Words: Ben Dillon. Photos: Trent Wilson.
Forging a different path in Australia’s modified car culture can be a tricky thing to do as fresh ideas often collide with an iron resistance to change from the established scene, but breaking down barriers is what Ty Isaak and his one-stop modification brand Mode Auto Concepts does best.
Growing up in a hot rod-loving family meant Ty received a healthy amount of exposure to grinding, welding and rumbling V8s from a young age and was himself swinging tools and modifying cars before he had even finished high school. His first foray into the scene was with an Isuzu ute which he chopped, sectioned and bagged and added #V8 greatness to. From there Ty waded deep into Australia’s street tuning scene of the late 1990s and early 2000s just as the Japanese import craze was calming down and the Euro scene was on the rise. Ty built on his fabrication roots and his ethos of unique concepts heavily influenced by his numerous trips to the US by creating a number of cars showcasing his talents.
These included a SoCal lowrider W116 Mercedes and a bagged, pure white A4 Avant, also dropped on its guts.
For his latest car, the stunning E92 M3 you see on these pages, Ty’s inspiration came from a visit to rev-head Mecca: the SEMA modified car show in Las Vegas. This instantly set him on the #Liberty-Walk-E92 body kit course as not only did Kato-san’s (Wataru Kato, Liberty Walk founder) fat creation for the E92 look fantastic but no one had yet attempted it in Australia. Added to this, the build could showcase brands represented by Ty’s business, which gave the project the added pressure of being an advertisement for what his company could do, but the choice of M3/ #BMW-E92-Liberty-Walk was an easy one to make.
“I’ve always been a fan of Euro cars and I appreciate all different marques, but I’m really selective on the models that I like within a brand,” Ty says. “I remember seeing the first M3 and have enjoyed the evolution of the generations; they always appealed to me. They are a really good package with a real motorsport feel.”
As purveyors of some of the fattest body kits in the known universe Liberty Walk is at the top of the heap – but a fat rear end alone was never going to set the world on fire. So, in the planning process before Ty even bought his M3, the concept of the build was given great consideration with the main goals for the car to be outlandish on the outside but still feel as good as it did driving off the showroom floor. “The objective with the M3 was that it should look crazy but feel like something that was made right from scratch, like it came from the factory,” Ty explains. “It has the loudest possible exhaust on it. It’s fully decatted to the x-pipe. And it’s all Armytrix Valvetronic, so when it opens up it’s an absolute beast. I had a guy come up to me with a race M3 and he said my car was louder!” And while the body kit is the focus of much attention, it seems the wheels are the starting point for all conversations on Ty’s E92. “Everyone argues about which side they like more and they all have really strong opinions about it,” Ty says. Those amazing wheels measure 10.5x19 inches on the front and 12.5x19 inches on the rear. You definitely can’t get them on eBay or anywhere else in the retail sphere (at the moment) as they are of Ty’s own creation – from concept drawings to tyred-up, forged alloy finality.
“I own the company Forge Wheels,” Ty reveals. “I went to the States years ago and started my own wheel company because I couldn’t find what I wanted in Australia. The wheels and tyres on this cost $10,000 (circa
£4800 at the time of writing) and so much work went into them in every single aspect. They are not off-the-shelf wheel; every single element has been engineered, designed and checked by me and my team.”
As impressive as all that is, wheels and a body kit don’t just attach themselves to a car, so Ty swung the grinder and sparked up the welder for every step along the way of the transformation of the E92 from muscular factory M3 to barking, steroidal, day-glo-wheeled freak. And there was plenty to do – not least to have US documentary filmmaker and good mate Zach Wingfield (whose showreel alone proves he’s car mad like the rest of us) hovering with a camera for three months solid, filming every single part of the build. “I had to put the front wings on about eight times because Zach wanted to shoot it from every angle, change a lens, or change the lighting,” Ty laughs.
The body work didn’t stop there. Modifications to the firewall ensure that the front wheels actually turn full lock.
Subsequent work involved plating and body deadened, while the rear of the car was mini-tubbed to accommodate those super-wide rear wheels. Again Ty fabricated and fitted the rolled inner tubs himself, sticking to his ethos of ‘if it’s been done right, it can stay like that forever’. But none of this was without drama, especially with the fitment of the Liberty Walk kit. “People have this perception that these kits come in some IKEA-like kit and you just get the screw gun out and screw it into the side of your car but it’s a lot of work to fit it properly. The instructions from Liberty Walk were pretty much just ‘cut it’,” Ty grins. “Getting the fitment right and making sure the car still drives like it did from the factory was the aim from the start. Whether it was legal or not I was still going to do it but I wanted to do it to specification, so I talked to my engineer and told him what I wanted to do. He reassured me I was on the right track.”
While cutting into an M3 to put a body kit on sounds like a #BMW purist’s worst nightmare, snatching out the factory M3 suspension and replacing it with airbag units seems a sure way to draw fire from those who would question how anything could replace M-division’s Nürburgring-honed best. But Ty is adamant that it fits the ethos of the build and his car still handles like a real M car. “A lot of people assume that because it’s on air it rides or drives like sheet but everything people perceive about air suspension, sloppy ride, or lack of handling, is eliminated in the AirREX kit,” Ty explains. This is down to the AirREX design combining the best of coilover and airbag designs with what is basically a damper-adjustable-strut on a fully-threaded body but with an air spring on it where a coil spring would normally be. The end result is something that looks like a coilover but with an airbag on it. “With the combination of the valving and the damping you wouldn’t know it was bagged and it just rides like a factory M3,” Ty adds.
It’s this approach to quality control which marks Ty’s car out from the herd. He’s paid particular attention to how the car now responds dynamically to the mechanical and aesthetic changes he’s made to ensure that it can be used as a daily driver – albeit one that never escapes attention when out in the wild.
“It’s totally ridiculous and a lot of people are in disbelief that I’ve even done it. You can’t drive it on the highway without someone driving up to you to take a photo or a video. It’s fun. It’s like being in a celebrity car,” Ty says with a smile. “I don’t think people even know what kind of car it is.
Nobody knows what #Liberty-Walk is and to have people hanging out the window of a car yelling out and giving me a thumbs up is just amazing.”
It’s not just fellow road users Down Under who appreciate Ty’s M3 either as fans worldwide can now drive this car through the streets of Surfers Paradise in Forza Horizon 3. It’s fitting for a car made on the Gold Coast to appear in a game with an Australian setting. Digital fame aside, Ty has even bigger plans for a ‘Stage 2’ build for the E92, which will see a toned- down colour scheme with the body kit as the sole survivor of the car’s current state in what will be a more track-focused evolution of the current ethos while still retaining street usability.
“Making huge power figure is not of any interest to us. It doesn’t achieve anything; it’s just a number on a piece of paper,” Ty says. “The next stage with this car is a full roll-cage and supercharger which, with the exhaust, tune, intake and underdrive pulley, will still make it a great streetcar but one that we can take on the track or to social track days and have a bit of fun with.” All we can say is bring it on Ty, we can’t wait to see it.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Liberty-Walk / #BMW / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Liberty-Walk / #BMW-M3-Liberty-Walk-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-M3-M-DCT / #BMW-M3-M-DCT-E92 / #Forge-Wheels / #LB-Performance / #AirREX
ENGINE 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , intake, custom ECU tune, #Armytrix-Valvetronic exhaust system with de-catted front pipes, x-pipe and ceramic-coated matt black tips
TRANSMISSION Seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 10.5x19” (front) and 12.5x19” (rear) #Forge-Wheels-USA-SV5-FS-spec-SL wheels with 275/30 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Nitto Invo tyres, #AirREX-Performance air suspension struts with #AirREX digital wireless management system in concealed enclosure, #Rolloface-Performance 380mm six-piston forged performance brake kit
EXTERIOR #Liberty-Walk-LB-Performance widebody kit (version two), Piano black front splitter and ducktail, BMW Performance black chrome kidney grilles and side vents, LED angel eye upgrade, LCI rear light upgrade
INTERIOR Factory interior
THANKS Everyone behind the scenes at MODE Auto Concepts that made this project possible, FORGE Wheels USA, Brian and the team from Armytrix Exhaust, Dizzy and the team from AirREX Air Suspension, Ken and the team from Rolloface Performance, Zach from ZWINGFILMS, Trent from TNW Photography for the behind the scenes photos, and Brad my painter for always telling me “no dramas”
“It should look crazy but feel like it came from the factory”
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- Post is under moderationDouble Dare
Owning one street-and track-tuned M3 would be enough for most people. But not Chad Bates – he’s upped the ante with a matching pair. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.
Fierce E92 M3 and F80 M3 tear up the Tarmac / Stunning twin M3s
The two cars you’re looking at here – the E92 M3, and the F80 M3 – may be just a single generation apart, but they couldn’t be more different. The E92 features a thudding Goliath of an engine, a brutal, highrevving V8 with a soundtrack that can strip paint off cheap houses. It is (relatively speaking) an old-skool bruiser.
The F80, conversely, is a smart representation of modern technological advances; a focus on combining performance with efficiency – plus the everpresent emissions Sword of Damocles – has seen to it that the motor is now a twin-turbo straight-six. Furthermore, this generation finally broke the M3 chain, hitherto being a badge glued to the two- and four-door variants: whereas the E92 M3 we have here is a coupé, the F80 is a four-door saloon. If you want a two-door coupé version of the F80, you will find yourself with an M4. Which is actually an F82. Such is progress, such is life.
They are, of course, tied by an indelible bond, each an exciting chapter in the ongoing M3 saga, and their owner, Chad Bates, has artfully augmented these ties with tasteful upgrades to further accentuate their kinship: they both wear BBS wheels, they both roll on KW suspension, they’re both painted in subtle shades of grey. This measured approach is the result of a lifetime of modifying for Chad – although he admits that BMWs are, in the grand scheme of things, reasonably new territory for him.
“I bought my first car, a 1984 Jeep Cherokee, at the age of 16,” he explains. “Ever since that point I have embarked upon making a personal statement with my cars.
The Cherokee got stripped down and repainted, and received one of the most insane sound systems that money could buy. It was a fun little first car that got me around during my high school years! My second car was a heavily modified 1992 Honda Accord, which I kept for a couple of years before purchasing an Acura Integra GS-R – that, again, was heavily modified, although it got stolen and vandalised in 2002, and that left a horrible taste in my mouth.”
Disheartened by this turn of events, Chad just didn’t feel his place in the modifying scene any more, so he pulled the ’chute and drifted out of it. Fast-forward to 2008 and he’d become a family man, so he acquired his first BMW – a shiny new 550i – to ferry the kids around in. It was wellequipped and had a bit of get-up-and-go, but he never felt any desire to modify it. But then, in 2011, the lease expired and Chad found himself yearning for something more… offbeat. And that’s when a voice in his brain reminded him what sparked the interest in Bavarian machinery in the first place. “My initial interest in BMWs began in 1996, when a friend of mine bought an E36 M3 and began modifying it,” he reminisces.
“At that time, there weren’t a lot of young people from my hometown who could afford that type of vehicle, let alone modify them. So the car quickly became a local legend.” Chad felt that it was the right time to grab a handful of that stardust for himself, so he did the decent thing and ordered himself a brand-new E92 M3.
“It started as a Jerez black 2012 E92 that I E92 M3 planned to keep pretty much stock, but thanks to magazines, forums and friends, that desire to keep it stock quickly passed,” he laughs. “I began modifying just about everything that could be touched on the car, and spent quite a bit of time on the track. After about three years owning the car, however, it was beginning to show signs of wear from all the track abuse, and I decided to make a pretty dramatic change. So I stripped it down in my home garage…”
Yep, you read that right. No mucking about here, it’s all hands-on. In fact, Chad’s proud to explain that he’s carried out as many of the mods as he was physically able to on both cars. But we’ll get to the F80 in due course. First, we have a stripped down E92 to deal with: “All the body panels were removed and the entire interior was gutted,” he continues. “I shipped the shell to the guys at Strassesport in Irwindale, CA, where they painted it in Audi Nardo grey – something I hadn’t seen on a BMW before. Once the paint was finished the guys allowed me to work in their shop putting the entire car back together with my own hands.”
The finished product, as you can see, is pretty meaty: staggered BBS E88s, copious carbon fibre touches, Recaro Sportster CS seats – and the rear bumper’s pretty jazzy too. Built up by Strassesport, it has aftermarket diffusers and flares smoothed right in, appearing like an OEM factory piece to all but those who know what they’re looking at. Classy, huh?
After a year, however, Chad got itchy feet. He was loving the street racer thrills of the E92, but he wanted to add to his collection. Something unusual, something different. And the answer came in the form of, er, another grey M3.
“A unique 2015 F80 M3 came up for sale,” he grins. “It had been ordered from BMW Individual and no expense was spared. It was the first of its kind to be painted in Fashion grey; a colour borrowed from Porsche. The interior was trimmed in contrasting Fjord blue and Silverstone leather. It was probably the most expensive M3 built at the time, with just about every option – and of course all the extra individual costs associated with the paint and interior. I knew that if I was going to purchase the new F8x model, the car had to be something special, and I knew that this car would fit the bill.” And, naturally, with those old modifying urges now firmly in overdrive, this was never going to be a case of simply finding a wellspec’d car and keeping it standard. Just like with that schoolboy Cherokee, Chad needed to make his personal statement.
Like the E92, the engine’s had its management breathed upon, while the exhaust has been replaced with something that allows the brutal motor to bark with more ferocity. KW coilovers offer a neat balance between track prowess and streetable durability, and a handful of carbon-fibre exterior mods really set off that Fashion Grey hue in style.
“Both of these cars were purchased to be promotional tools for my business, MotorRennGruppe, a manufacturer of titanium wheel hardware,” he explains, and that’s the logic informing the look-at-me wheels on both cars. The E92 wears 18” BBS E88s in staggered widths, while the F80 has a set of genuinely mighty custom-built BBS LMs, the rears measuring an eye-watering and arch-busting 12x20”. Just check out those Michelins, they’re a 305-section at the rear. That’s supercar wide!
“For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups that push the limits of the stock arches without making the cars look out of place or hacked up,” says Chad. “The E92’s E88s were rebuilt with new inner and outer barrels to widen the fronts to 10” and the rears to 11.5”, with offsets that brought the faces of the wheel nearly even with the arch lips. Then I knew I had to do something special with the F80, so I had a set of stock BBS LMs rebuilt to 10” and 12” widths. To my knowledge, this was the first set of 20” LMs done for the F80 M3.”
What particularly strikes us about Chad when he’s describing his modifying journey with this grey duo is that it’s all very considered and thoughtful; he’s not the type to rush in and overdo things. Perhaps it’s the background of getting his hands dirty and doing everything himself, but there’s not an iota of effort wasted here.
Take the engine tuning, for example. It’s easy to go a bit mad with M3s, but it’s good to remember that they’re pretty formidable in stock form, and sometimes less is more. “Both cars maintain stock engine internals, and were treated with tunes and bolt-on accessories,” he points out. “The E92 has a Stage II tune from BPM Sport, while the F80 has the E-Flash Tuner from ESS. Both cars have uprated intake systems from Macht Schnell and Maximum PSI, and the F80 has BMS charge pipes bolted up to the stock turbos. The ESS tune on the F80 bumps up the power considerably over stock with race fuel, and is extremely capable on the track – although I prefer driving the E92 over the F80 for the raw sound of the V8!”
Ah, the agony of choice, eh? But despite the obvious similarities between Chad’s two M3s, there’s a clear ideological split: the E92 has been built to be sporty and trackfriendly, while the swankier F80 is the luxurious daily driver that just happens to have Continent-crushing GT potential as well as track-slaying physical drama. Between them, they tick a lot of boxes.
So where does he go from here? “Well, I’d like a Porsche GT3 next,” he tells us. Yeah, he says that… but with two entirely different M3s to choose from – one modern, sensible and cosseting, the other an old-skool badboy track monster – we suspect he’s going to have his hands pretty full for a while.
“The F80 is capable on the track, but I prefer the E92 for the raw sound of the V8!”
“The car had to be something special… I knew this would fit the bill”
“For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E92 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Macht-Schnell-Stage-2 intake, #BPM-Sport-Stage-2 tune, #Megan-Racing exhaust system, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #BBS-E88 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot SuperSport tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers, #StopTech Trophy big brake kit with six-piston callipers and 380x35mm discs (front) and four-piston callipers with 355x35mm discs (rear).
EXTERIOR Audi Nardo grey paint, OEM Euro-spec front bumper, iND grilles, bonnet vents and side gills, Mode Carbon GTS V1 carbon fibre front lip and side skirts, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps (painted Nardo grey), custom-moulded BMW M Performance spoiler, custom-moulded rear bumper with integrated diffuser.
INTERIOR Recaro Sportster CS seats, BMW Performance steering wheel, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate and paddle shifters.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 , #ESS flash tune, #Eisenmann valved exhaust system, #BMS charge pipes, #Maximum-PSI charge intakes, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) custombuilt #BBS-LM wheels with 245/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW-HAS coilovers, M carbonceramic brakes, #MRG titanium stud conversion.
EXTERIOR Individual Fashion grey paint, Mode Carbon carbon-fibre Trophy S1 front lip, rear diffuser and M4-style rear spoiler, iND cosmetic package, modified M4 #BMW-M-Performance side skirts.
INTERIOR Individual Fjord blue and Silverstone extended leather interior with contrasting stitching, BMW M Performance steering wheel, factory carbon fibre interior trim, head-up display, Mode Carbon carbon fibre seat-back replacements (front and rear), P3 Cars digital boost gauge, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate, and paddle shifters.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationM3 CRT 4.4-litre V8, 450hp, 180mph, £120k. We drive the ultimate M3 on UK roads for the first time
The E90 M3 CRT was the last of the naturally-aspirated M3 Saloons and now we’ve finally driven one in the UK we can’t help but fall for its considerable charms Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.
Last Action Hero
The last of the normally aspirated M3s, the glorious #CRT was an appropriate swansong.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had a little bit of a downer on the E9x generation of M3 during its lifetime; not that there was anything in particular wrong with the car, but for the plethora of special editions that it spawned. Indeed, when I returned from the international launch of the Coupé I was initially raving about the car, while it seemed that much of the rest of the motoring world seemed to be less enthused. I’m not quite sure why, perhaps it was because it didn’t feel quite as special as the E46 CSL, but to me its wonderful V8 combined with its staggering pace and poise and everyday practicality had me lusting after one.
Timing though, is everything, or so they say, and unfortunately for BMW the E92 M3 erupted on to a world on the brink of a recession and after the initial early-adopters had bought their cars, sales struggled big time. For the company directors and the like who were the target audience it just wasn’t seen as the done thing to be arriving in the company car park in a howl of V8-awesomeness when the workforce were being told there was no money for pay rises and the like. So BMW embarked on a series of Edition models to try and tempt buyers back into the showrooms.
This was more or less a worldwide phenomenon and in the UK we had a plethora of machinery being kitted out with additional equipment and unique colour schemes to part potential customers from their hard earned cash. During the car’s life we saw the arrival of the Edition, the Edition 500, the Frozen Silver Edition and the Performance Edition and while they all offered value for money (bar the latter machine which weighed in at a frankly ludicrous £74k!) I was concerned that BMW was diluting the M3 brand too much.
Back in the day, M3 special editions were made to either enhance the racing experience or to honour success on the race tracks of the world and to me the plethora of V8-engined M3s with some special paint and black alloys (argh, this is where the rot really set in – regular readers will know my feelings on black wheels!) just didn’t cut the mustard.
I was more pleased to see the arrival of the Competition Pack-equipped M3. Here was a machine that actually had some appreciable performance upgrades – the power might not have been boosted but subtle suspension tweaks and a set of sexy CSL-style alloys (thankfully in silver) made it an option box worth ticking. In total BMW offered around 25 different special editions worldwide but it saved the best for last when it announced the E92 M3 GTS and the E90 M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) in May 2010 and June 2011 respectively.
These two models made BMW look like it had just been toying with us for the past three years or so and here were two machines that really were worth writing home about. We’ll talk about the CRT here as that’s the machine we’ve driven, but mechanically both models were virtually identical. At its heart was a meatier version of the #S65 V8 with a longer stroke (up from 75.2mm to 82mm) to give a swept volume of 4361cc which endowed the GTS with 450hp at 8300rpm and a torque peak of 325lb ft at 3750rpm – gains of 30hp and 30lb ft, and that torque figure was developed a smidgen lower down the rev range, too. Performance was up, with the CRT’s 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds beating a DCT-equipped ‘regular’ E90 Saloon by 0.3 seconds, while the CRT had its limiter removed too and was good for 180mph flatout.
We’re not too sure that economy and emissions would have been too high on most potential owners’ wish lists but the larger engine did drop economy from 25.2 to 22.2mpg while emissions rose from 263 to 295g/km… but the CRT was never about saving the planet was it?
The V8 was hooked up to the rather excellent seven-speed M dual clutch gearbox (there was no manual option) but for the GTS and CRT applications it was modified with increased oil capacity and had different software to endow the ‘box with even quicker changes. The CRT’s suspension followed the path set by the more overtly track-orientated GTS by adopting a full coilover setup with adjustable compression and rebound. Ride height was dropped slightly (16mm at the front and 12mm at the back) and there was solid bushing in the rear axle mountings too.
To ensure the CRT would stop as well as it went the brakes were given a comprehensive going over – front discs were upgraded to 32x378mm drilled items while the rears were 28x380mm clamped by six- and four-piston callipers front and rear respectively. Even the brake lines were upgraded, showing the car was intended to be driven hard and not found wanting in the stopping department.
But that’s enough of a history lesson for now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. With the CRT being the rarest of the rare (just 67 production examples were manufactured) and never listed as a UK market machine I’d always thought that the chances of driving one over here were minute to infinitesimal.
But then I received an email from the owner of the example you can see here urging me to come and have a drive in his. Even better, the car wasn’t based in Germany or some other far-flung corner of the globe, it was in the very next county at specialist seller, Millennium Heroes, who were selling the car on his behalf. I must admit to feeling rather excited as I hotfooted it over to Surrey before the owner changed his mind.
After having exchanged pleasantries with the everhelpful chaps at Millennium Heroes and taken a couple of minutes to drool over its veritable smorgasbord of mouth-watering stock, it was time to fire up the CRT and head off to meet up with snapper Gus Gregory in the Surrey hills. As soon as I’ve hit the starter button I know this is going to be something considerably more exciting than the stock E90 M3 as its lightweight titanium exhaust system shouts its approval at being awoken from its slumber. I spend a minute or two getting the seats and mirrors to their correct positions and familiarising myself with the lefthand drive layout while allowing the #V8 to gently warm through.
Initially the drive is dominated by me being super careful while threading the M3 through the narrow lanes to the shoot – the last thing I want to do is leave a set of horrendous scratches down the side of this super-rare machine and the fact that it’s the only one in the country keeps nagging at the back of my mind. With some miles under my belt I become more familiar with the car and while the E90’s not exactly huge it does take a few miles to become properly accustomed to its dimensions before I feel comfortable exploring the performance.
With the engine now fully up to temperature and some fast A roads that cut through the rolling hills unbelievably almost completely deserted it’s time to play. Those roads might be nearly empty but they’re unexpectedly poorly-surfaced too, with coarse Tarmac that has great divots cut into it in places as well as some tricky cambers in the quicker corners. The CRT almost feels at home here but every now and then it feels slightly wrong-footed and can skip from bump to bump, with the tyres never feeling fully keyed into the surface.
Despite the fact that I know Gus is waiting for me I decide to give it another go, so I turn around and drive the section of road again, but this time at full chat – no dilly-dallying this time. With the throttle and ‘box in their most aggressive settings and the traction control in its halfway house mode, the CRT really comes alive – the suspension now responding as I had expected, the engine revelling in the full use of its rev range and the DCT ‘box swapping cogs with blink-and- you-miss-it alacrity. Understeer is conspicuous by its absence – I can really feel the rubber keying into the surface now and there are superb levels of feedback and a smidgen of oversteer as I exit some corners, but not so much that the electronic nanny is called into play. It’s a mesmerising performance and one that seals the CRT’s place in my mind as one of BMW’s true greats.
Tempting as it is to do it all over again for a third time I head off to get some pictures in the bag and continue the history lesson on the CRT – snapper Gus get’s the full works when he stupidly asks what’s different about it. Having run him through the mechanical changes I move on to the body and from where the car’s name is derived. As previously mentioned, its moniker is short for Carbon Racing Technology and, in part, the CRT was used as a test bed for BMW’s CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) manufacturing skills that it was looking to perfect for the i brand. Raising the bonnet shows that this panel is manufactured from CFRP as it feels very light and was manufactured from cast-off CFRP parts that were then fashioned into the bonnet panel.
BMW used a similar process to construct the delicate front CFRP spoiler extension and the simple lip spoiler on the bootlid (far preferable to the huge wing on a GTS to my eyes) and both of these items have a sliver of Melbourne red paint along their extremities, as do the air intakes on the bonnet and the side gills behind the front wings. The rest of the exterior is finished in Frozen Polar silver metallic and in the autumn sun the effect is rather stunning.
Inside BMW also went to town on the CRT with the front seats being replaced by CFRP-backed sporty numbers that give more support than the standard seats as well as looking absolutely stunning with the carbon weave visible on their backs. The rear bench has been replaced by two sculpted seats and the whole interior is decked out in a combination of Black and Sakhir orange extended Novillo leather, although in the flesh the Sakhir orange actually appears significantly more red than orange. The only fly in the ointment is the black wheels, but I can almost forgive the CRT this minor misdemeanour…
And that’s because it goes like no other E90 I’ve had the pleasure to drive before, or since. It feels monumentally fast and the extra slug of torque is very welcome, even if keeping the V8 on song is absolute child’s play thanks to the recalibrated DCT. On our lumpy roads the suspension can feel a little less than sharp when you’re not fully on it, but up the pace and it really comes alive, and no doubt this could be further tailored to your specific requirements as it’s a fully adjustable coilover setup.
Overall the CRT has left me feeling a little foolish. Back when it was new I didn’t really ‘get’ the car, and I was all too ready to dismiss it as another of the surplus of M3 special editions. Now I’ve sampled it, though, I absolutely love it. It’s a full-on M car that has to be driven, and driven hard to be really appreciated. I still think it was too expensive when new, and wish that BMW would offer something in between the Comp pack offerings and the ultra-limited production GTS/CRT type machinery but as a glorious swan song for the normally aspirated M3 Saloon this CRT will never be beaten.
CONTACT: Millennium Heroes / Tel: 01483 338 902 / Web: www.millenniumheroes.com
It goes like no other E90 I’ve had then pleasure to drive before, or since.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3-CRT / #BMW-M3-E90 / #BMW-M3-CRT-E90 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-Sedan / #BMW-3-Series-Sedan-E90 /
ENGINE: V8, 32-valve, quad-cam
MAX POWER: 450hp @ 8300rpm
MAX TORQUE: 325lb ft @ 3750rpm
0-62MPH: 4.4 seconds
TOP SPEED: 180mph
WEIGHT (DIN): 1580kg
FRONT: 32x378mm drilled and vented discs, six-piston fixed callipers
REAR: 28x380mm drilled and vented discs, six-piston fixed callipers
WHEELS: Black 19-inch M light alloy Y-spoke style #359M
TYRES : Michelin Pilot Sport
FRONT: 245/35 R19
REAR: 265/35 R19
STEERING: Hydraulic rack and pinion, M Servotronic
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed #M-DCT
PRICE: €130,000 (2011), £124,995 (today)
With the throttle and ’box in their most aggressive settings and the traction control in its halfway house mode the CRT really comes alive.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLOU’S E92 M3 / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92
The E9x M3 models are very special indeed – the #BMW-S65 / #S65 4.0-litre #V8 under the bonnet is not only derived from the legendary V10 found in the E60 M5, but it’s also the only V8 ever fitted to an M3 and it’s the last naturally aspirated engine to go out of production at BMW. That alone, means this generation of M3 has a good possibility of becoming a highly desired classic.
Despite the fact refuelling is a constant occurrence, the V8 in itself is reason enough for any true #BMW fan to buy an E92 M3. It revs up to 8250rpm and the throttle response is instantaneous. But there’s just one drawback. In my opinion it is way too quiet for a V8 – go through a tunnel, windows down and throttle pinned, and it is a bit disappointing. There was only one solution to that: upgrade the exhaust. There’s always the worry that it’s going to be too loud – like the system that ex- #PBMW editor Iain Curry fitted to his E30 320iS. It used to set off car alarms and that is not cool. So, I did a lot of research to see all the options available to me before making my decision.
I whiled away hours checking out various compilation videos on YouTube from the likes of #Quicksilver , #Remus , #Eisenmann , #Milltek and #Akrapovic , and scouring forums to see what fellow M3 owners were recommending. As it’s used for the daily commute and at weekends, I wanted it to be fairly civilised, and eventually decided on #Eisenmann , which is responsible for designing the OEM systems on Porsche and AMG cars, and builds its exhausts by hand.
Via Eisenmann’s UK agent CA Technologies, I ordered its back box and connecting pipes, which allow you to install an aftermarket system without the need to cut the OEM piping. All I had to do was decide on what tips and sound level I wanted. MD Roy Carvalho said that around 80% of M3 owners opt for Race over Sport, and although it’s 20db louder when the car is on the move I decided to take the chance, together with 83mm round perforated tips.
I was intrigued as to whether fitting an aftermarket exhaust would improve performance so before I handed the car over to #BMSport to install the system I put it on a rolling road. The end result showed 300lb ft of torque, which is five more than the book figure, but sadly it was over 37hp under what BMW quotes, at 382.7hp. However, when you take into account that grade of fuel, tyre pressures and atmospheric conditions can influence test accuracy, a loss of around 9% isn’t actually that bad. Tune in next month to see if it made more power and what I think of the new exhaust note.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBe it road or track, Thorney Motorsport’s well-sorted and utterly furious E92 M3 will crush all-comers and all corners. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson.
THORNEY E92 M3 Ferocious 455hp track beast.
TARMAC TERRORIST Track-honed E92 M3
Never pass up the opportunity to drive an E9x M3. Of course, we can’t imagine you would because when you’re presented with the keys to arguably one of BMW’s finest-ever M creations, you’d have to be silly not to. And in the case of Thorney Motorsport’s M3 it wasn’t a suggestion but rather an insistence that I see what the car is capable of and it would be downright rude to refuse such a generous offer. I return a little while later, slightly weak at the knees and feeling like I need a cigarette after the experience I just had. I don’t even smoke…
Thorney Motorsport has been around for 16 years and eponymous owner John Thorne has been involved in the BMW game for as long as anyone can remember. The company did briefly take a hiatus to go racing and add fettling Vauxhalls to the its many talents before returning to its roots a few years ago and taking up the #BMW tuning mantle once more. Its certainly been busy since then as, aside from working on countless customer cars, it has produced a number of awesome demonstrators including a monstrous X5 M, F82 M4 that you’ll be able to read about in a future issue and the car we’re about to get under the skin of today, this magnificent E92 M3.
This is Thorney’s second E92 M3 and represents the final stage of the company’s tried and tested development programme. When a new car is welcomed into the Thorney fold it first spends some time being driven so John and the team are able to really get to know it before stage one can begin. This is the road car development phase which can take up to two years, with numerous modifications and combinations of components being tested, refined and developed in-house in order to get the car and the modifications up to Thorney’s standards. The company’s previous car had undergone the fast road development process before it was sold and when John acquired this 2008 M3 it was specifically to develop and build it up into a track car.
“There’s a big difference between a racing car and a track car,” he explains, “this specific car needs to be comfortable, road legal with an MoT and fun on the road but also track-focused, so it’s a more challenging build. Our principle is to take the best bits of the standard car and make them better, and make the bad bits less bad.”
The end product is a car that, while still trackbiased, you can comfortably drive on the road. It excels in both disciplines. “The whole car,” John continues, “has been inspired by the E92 M3 GTS but we’ve made it better.” That might seem like a bold statement, but having the GTS as a template meant that the Thorney team knew what it needed to do to surpass the BMW-built track special and that’s exactly what it’s done.
Obviously, if you’re building a track car it’s got to have plenty of power, and the M3 certainly isn’t short on that front. On a high compression, naturally aspirated engine you’re always going to struggle to get big gains but, where the GTS had an engine capacity increase up to 4.4-litres to make 450hp, the Thorney M3 makes a dynoproven 455hp from the stock displacement. It also develops 40lb ft more torque than stock with 360lb ft on tap, a significant gain and Thorney has worked to overcome the S65’s lack of low-end torque. The secret to its success is a custom, larger capacity carbon fibre intake plenum, a custom map designed for low-end gains and a Thorney 3” bore exhaust, designed in-house, which John says is perfect for the rev-hungry V8, with one set of silencers and repeaters, enough to pass all track noise tests with minimal exhaust flow restriction, finished off with carbon tips.
“When it comes to building a track car the three most important areas are handling, brakes and seats,” explains John and as a result of that everything on board this M3 has been fitted to make it stop harder and handle better. Nothing fitted to this car is a frivolity and nothing has been left to chance, these mods have been carried out because they work. The wheels are Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2s: “Bulletproof,” says John, “very light and very strong. We run 18s as the E9x handles much better on smaller wheels and it’s the same size that the GT4 uses. We generally prefer to run a square setup but the car is currently on 10s and 11s front and rear with Toyo R888 RR tyres.” That wide rubber means monster grip and traction but that’s not all, it’s backed up by a race-proven aerodynamic package. “The front splitter and adjustable rear wing are both from the GT4; we found that these consistently work well and are genuine motorsport parts. The only difference here is that the GT4 spoiler uses thinner steel upright and this version has thicker alloy ones.”
When it came to suspension, there was only one option as far as John was concerned: “We always work with Bilstein. It’s the most consistent, the best on warranty, it offers excellent support and the R&D process is open enough to listen to suggestions and work with us. We developed the Bilstein Club Sport kit in conjunction with Bilstein, and the one fitted to this car was the first kit in the UK. What sets it apart is that it’s been tuned for UK roads and circuits, which are smoother than the ’Ring, so we can run a stiffer setup, and the dampers are matched to H&R springs.
“For the brakes,” he continues, “we went for Performance Friction discs, bells and pads with our own in-house braided hoses with race fluid. This setup performs very well. It’s 85% of a big brake kit for a third of the cost, with everything coming to £1800 fitted. So far we’ve not found anyone who can out-brake us on track with a BBK.”
While the interior has been lightened to a degree, it’s not the bare, barren, stripped-out environment you might be expecting. “We have stripped some weight out; the rear seats have been removed and the area has been custom-trimmed but it’s not been stripped and gutted because while it is a fun car that’s been designed for the track it can still go on the road so we wanted to retain a degree of comfort. In a track car, harnesses will save your life and decent seats mean you won’t be holding on for dear life when you’re cornering. We went with Cobra for both of these, with an Ultralite motorsport seat for the driver and a Nogaro sport seat for the passenger. We had to re-engineer the whole seats to make them fit and designed our own mounts. We also fitted our own design of half cage, which was inspired by the GTS, but where the GTS cage weighs 70kg, ours is custommade from T45 steel and weighs just 21kg.”
It’s an insanely comprehensive build and while we don’t have a track to hand, I still can’t wait to see how this build feels out on the road. The serious-looking Cobra Ultralite driver’s seat is a little snug for a slightly broader-hipped lady such as myself but hey, at least it means I won’t be going anywhere through the corners. Mercifully there are no harnesses to faff about with for the road either, and the view from where I’m sitting is ordinary, with the stock M3 steering wheel and gear knob having been retained.
The V8 fires with a brrraap and settles into that familiar, busy idle, but with the volume turned up a few notches. It’s loud, and sounds lush, but even with this minimally silenced track arrangement it’s not obnoxious. These first few minutes of normality do lull you into a false sense of security, though, because the minute I get out onto the road and go for the throttle, all hell breaks loose. The Thorney M3 feels apocalyptically fast and while the on-paper figures might not seem all that impressive, it’s the combination of that huge gain in torque and low-end response along with the improved top-end breathing that makes it so much faster. The mid-range performance is now utterly explosive and, where you’d normally find yourself wringing the V8 out all the way to the redline to eke out every last drop of performance, I actually find myself short shifting well before the redline a couple of times as the newfound response and sheer punch of the engine lower down the rev range means that you can make indecently rapid progress without even having to try. Wind the engine all the way out, though, and the relentless acceleration is astonishing. The S65 is doing its exponential power delivery party trick but now there’s a whole lot more fireworks involved and the top end is, frankly, just a little obscene.
The brakes are phenomenal and I can’t imagine a BBK delivering significantly better braking performance than this setup does, the pedal remaining firm and the brakes biting hard corner after corner. But, more impressive than any of that, is the way this M3 changes direction and the way it rides. John said that on a track with warm tyres this car would not understeer, but out on the road and pushing hard it absolutely refuses to let go from either end. Turn-in is instant, there’s no pause as the chassis catches up with your steering input. It responds immediately to every single adjustment you make and its cornering performance and ability are mesmerising. I’m instantly grateful for the snug-fitting seat as it makes such a difference to how hard you can push. The ride is also sublime, with the 18s soaking up the worst of the road surface through those generously-sized sidewalls, while the suspension keeps the car so incredibly planted it’s breathtaking. It feels like it’s physically attached to the road surface and is so incredibly controlled over every dip and undulation. I’ve driven a lot of different E9x M3s on a lot of different roads but this might just be one of the best driving experiences I’ve ever had and having to stop and hand back the keys was genuinely upsetting.
Considering just how much equipment this car boasts the price is possibly the most impressive thing about it; John says that to do everything on this car would cost about £12,000 – that’s the lightweight cage, the full exhaust system, the Bilstein Clubsports, the seats, everything. Cherry pick only what you really want and you could come away with a very capable track car that’s still happy on the road for less than that and, with E9x M3 prices continuing to fall, if you’re serious about track driving then it would be a tempting prospect.
It’s relatively easy to make the E9x M3 go faster, stop harder or handle better but to elevate an already capable car to another level of ability and to make such huge improvements across the board, to hone every aspect of the car’s character to the Nth degree, is impressive and exactly what Thorney has achieved.
“So far we’ve not found anyone who can out-break us on track with a BBK”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #Team-Dynamics / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Team-Dynamics / #BMW-M3-Team-Dynamics-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E92
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 / #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / , #TMS carbon induction kit, TMS stage three ECU custom map, TMS 3” custom built mandrel bent full exhaust system, FIA race cats, carbon fibre quad tail trims. Six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11x18” (rear) #Team-Dynamics-Pro-Race-1.2 wheels with 265/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Toyo R888 RR tyres, #Bilstein Clubsport kit with #H&R springs, #Performance-Friction discs and bells (front), Performance Friction PF11 pads (front and rear), TMS braided brake lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR BMW GT4 rear wing, BMW GT4 front splitter
INTERIOR TMS GTS custom built bolt-in rear cage, TMS front race seats, TMS five-point harness, rear seats removed and interior retrimmed
“Our principle is to take the best bits of the standard car and make them better”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFROZEN IN TIME / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3-GTS / #BMW-M3-GTS-E92 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-Frozen-Edition / #BMW-M3-Frozen-Edition-E92 / #BMW-M3-SA / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-E92
Frozen in Time South Africa didn’t get the #BMW E92 M3 GTS so it made its own limited edition performance model.
BMW made a plethora of special edition of E92 M3s but this one of the most exclusive, the South African Frozen M3 Edition, limited to just 25 examples. Words: Johann Venter. Photography Mahomed Abdulla.
Come on feel the noise.’ Those words uttered by Quiet Riot couldn’t be more appropriate as the M3 charges down the straight, the shifter being blipped in quick succession, the noise incessant, the speedo racing towards 240km/h.
Then it’s hard onto the brakes, the nose digging into the Tarmac. The rear feels like it wants to pole vault to the sky. The turn-in to the hairpin is sharp. Full throttle on the exit, creating the perfect power-slide. Thankfully the electronic nannies have retired for the day. Quick counter-steer is needed, though, to make sure it doesn’t all come undone. Then it’s onto a short straight, then a left kink, requiring just a slight lift off the throttle, into the next hairpin, followed by another short straight and a swooping left-hander onto the pit straight, that thunderous F1 noise of old returning, as the right paddle is relentlessly tugged. Hard onto the brakes again going into a left hairpin, blip the throttle for the short straight that follows and then a full power-slide through the 90-degree right hander. Get the nose straight long enough to make the last hard right turn, onto a flowing section with one swooping right turn, clip the right apex on the final straight, and finally we’re back on the long straight where we started. Hopefully we set a new lap record on this short 2.6km Midvaal Raceway track. This is heartpounding stuff. Get it right and you feel like a Top Gun ace; get it wrong… well, we don’t even want to think about it. This is the allure of the E92 M3, dialled-up to 11 if it is the limited Schnitzer Frozen Edition. Quiet Riot was right, it did get rather wild. We’re sold. Where do we sign?
How is it, though, that BMW SA was once again able to have a model specifically developed for the South African market? In 2010 South Africa was deemed the seventh largest M market for BMW and local M enthusiasts were therefore understandably cheesed-off when the E92 M3 GTS, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the M3, did not come their way. Fortunately BMW SA was able to convince BMW AG that it should have its own unique commemorative M3 for the South African market. Not a new feat by BMW SA as developing unique models for the South African market had already reached legendry status with the likes of the E12 530 MLE, E23 M-powered 745i, E30 333i and E30 325iS all garnering plenty of aficionado followers.
So what made this Frozen Edition so special? For starters, BMW for the first time offered an M3 with blatant Schnitzer badging on the outside (underneath the right tail-light) and even under the bonnet (the Schnitzer crest found on the carbon fibre intake manifold). This was no ordinary Frozen Edition, though. To the rest of the world a Frozen M3 means an exotic paint finish and some stitching on the seats.
This Schnitzer package, on the other hand, comprised a high performance exhaust, including a de-cat, a carbon fibre Schnitzer intake manifold, and the DME (Digital Motor Electronics) was reprogrammed to ignore the de-cat and allow for a top speed of 180mph (290km/h). The 0-62mph dash, achieved in 4.5 seconds, shaves off a few tenths from the standard M3’s time. Power was up by 29hp (21kW), with a maximum of 449hp (330kW) reached at a hefty 8400rpm. The torque band was also increased by 15lb ft (20Nm) to 310lb ft (420Nm) which peaked at 3900rpm. What is significant is that the cars were not imported from Germany with the Schnitzer upgrades. Instead BMW SA entered into an agreement with JSN Motors, the sole importer and distributor for AC Schnitzer on the African continent, to carry out the conversions at the Rosslyn plant.
We caught up with BMW/Schnitzer technician, Shaun du Plessis, from JSN, who was responsible for carrying out the conversions at the VDC (Vehicle Distribution Centre) at the Rosslyn plant. He explains: “The M3s were imported just as they rolled off the production-line in Germany. All Schnitzer components were shipped separately. A colleague and I removed the rear exhaust boxes and carried out the de-cat. We swapped the intake manifold for the Schnitzer carbon fibre item and removed the DME.” Sounds rather straightforward? “Yes, except for the fact that we had to ship all the DMEs to Schnitzer to be reprogrammed.” We would have thought that BMW AG could have arranged that, and du Plessis concurs: “You and I both. That was the lengthiest part of the conversion. Our colleagues at Rosslyn only assisted with welding on the rear Schnitzer exhausts.
“This special SA Frozen Edition was limited to 25 cars to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the M3. There was one additional car for the press that most people don’t know about. It took two weeks to complete all the conversions. Eight lucky owners took delivery in late 2010 and the rest were delivered early the following year.” These Frozen M3s were only offered in two colours – 20 were black (including the lone press car) and just six in grey.
Du Plessis is obviously a fan of these cars he helped to create and gives us his impressions of the car: “Stavros Neophitou, the dealer principal and owner of JSN, owned one for a short while. My most lasting impression is the noise, it was proper! So loud that it would rattle your neighbours’ windows. Start it cold and it exploded. The throttle response was definitely sharper than the standard M3, the power gains were down to the manifold, de-cat and rear Schnitzer exhaust and not really the DME. The top speed was raised to the limit, and I can testify to that, the 290km/h (180mph) is genuine!” Definitely a collector’s item then? “Without a doubt! The only fly in the ointment is that BMW SA never issued limited edition plaques to authenticate each car as a limited edition and to specify the number, which I think will lower the values of these M3s somewhat.”
When sold new in 2010/11 it retailed for R1,180,000 (£114,563) – a whopping R215,671 (£20,939) premium over the standard M3. Let’s put that into perspective. The M3 sold new in the UK in 2010 for £51,000 and some change. The M3 GTS sold for £117,630, so in essence South African buyers were paying just £3000 less than the cost of a GTS for the Schnitzer and also almost double for the standard M3 over UK buyers.
So what did your £114k buy you? A 10mm lowered suspension, 19-inch high gloss alloys (unfortunately not the Y-spoke CSL-style rims) wrapped in 245/40 ZR19 Pirelli rubber in the front and 265/40 ZR19 at the rear, and contrasting fiery red brake callipers. Electronic Damper Control came as an optional extra. Damn that is cheeky. Wasn’t the price high enough already? Fortunately, all the other goodies came free, which included the seven-speed M Dual Clutch Transmission, dark chrome kidney surrounds, matt Shadowline exterior trim, carbon-like central insert in the dash and vibrant red stitching on the leather. Unfortunately the Alcantara steering got left out of the equation… pity.
Turning to the grey example adorning the pages in front of you, it is one of only six in this hue. With only 24,000km (14,913 miles) on the odometer, it is in superb condition. The grey, in our opinion, is the better colour option over the black, achieving that frozen (frosted) look much more convincingly, and accentuating the lines, curves and creases much better. Truth be told, the Frozen Silver is the one that gets our hair to stand on end. Although this M3 does not get much road time, it is very practical as an everyday steed. The award winning, naturally aspirated V8 engine (the last of its kind) is capable of dealing with traffic, blasts through the countryside and the occasional track day, so quite versatile in all respects. This M3 is best enjoyed on a charge, though, the freerevving engine making it easy to keep it in the sweet spot, with the flexibility to either have all of the drive aids fully switched on, or just enough to burn rubber as you power-slide or, for the brave, the option of no safety net whatsoever. The steering is well weighted with a precision that allows you to tackle S-bends and hairpins with confidence. The cross-drilled ventilated rotors and single-piston callipers provide neck snapping deceleration. All of which is achieved in a comfortable, luxurious, Germanic cockpit with worldclass ergonomics and a sizable luggage compartment to boot.
The matt paint finish on this M3 has been perfectly preserved, unlike a large number of the remaining 25 that were sold. Most have succumbed to the blotchy gloss effect that is caused by cleaning the cars with exotic shampoos and by applying waxes and polish. Only regular shampoo (naturally BMW recommends its own brand) is needed; no sealants, waxes and polishes are to be used. Even a microfibre cloth is a no, no. Residues such as tar and bird lime is to be removed immediately. We’re not sure if the initial owners were given a thorough enough briefing with regards to cleaning or if they simply ignored it. By now the cars are in the hands of second or third owners and we doubt if they were alerted to the dos and don’ts. BMW, however, seems to be on a roll with the Frozen paint effect and has extended it to a wider range in its line-up. It all started with the M3 in 2010 and, according to BMW, all 30 units of the grey M3 Frozen Edition sold out within 12 minutes. The Frozen effect is achieved by applying a different clear-coat mix ratio, in terms of hardeners, reducers, application methods, and drying options. Different panels of the vehicle require different clear-coat ratios. A Frozen finish reflects about 20 percent of the light that penetrates, so make sure your air-con is working.
All rather complex, and what self-respecting car-nut doesn’t occasionally want to apply some wax or polish to his pride and joy, and buff it until a mirror finish has been achieved?
BMW caught on to the limited/special edition trend with the first generation M3 and has not looked back since, with the highly anticipated M4 GTS now available in Europe and North America. South African M devotees are rejoicing, as this time around the GTS will be gracing their shores. However, only 25 customers were invited to the GTS party, with a price tag of R2,134,500 equating to £99,510 at an exchange rate of R21,45 (the exchange rate is more than double what it was in 2010). In the UK, however, the GTS is priced at £121,780 (who’s laughing now?).
Clearly South Africa has become an M market that cannot be ignored; indeed it’s now ranked fifth in the world in terms of overall M market share. It doesn’t hurt that on the 7 April 2016, Dr. Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Marketing and former boss of BMW SA, unveiled the second largest standalone M showroom in the world: Zambesi Auto in Pretoria. We have mixed feelings about the GTS, and the M4 in particular. We much prefer the four-door M3; it’s a much better balanced and cohesive shape as far as we’re concerned. It all goes horribly wrong aft of the B-pillar on the M4; the rear wing is way too long and the tail-lights disproportionally large. In my opinion the previous E92 M3 Coupé hits the spot. It is a rather handsome devil that cuts a suave figure, its design well balanced and proportioned.
Cosmetically the Schnitzer Frozen M3 Edition is a bit of a mixed bag; some key elements, such as the Y-spoke CSL-style rims and Alcantara steering, were omitted. But it is a cracking limited M3. And even though it doesn’t have a plaque declaring its rarity, it will definitely increase in value over the years. BMW made a plethora of limited edition E9x M3s; whether they will all be worth the investment, only time will tell. What is certain, though, is that we’re all suckers when it comes to these M limited edition runs.
THANKS TO: Ron Silke
“The noise was proper! So loud that it would rattle your neighbours’ windows”
“It took two weeks to complete all the conversions, eight lucky owners took delivery in late 2010 and the rest were delivered early the following year”
THANKS TO: Midvaal Raceway or the use of the circuit. / Web: www.midvaalraceway.co.za / Tel: +27 82 774 4285Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLOU’S E92 M3 / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-E92
Desperately trying to hold back my tears and keep it together as my husband, Dan, read out his beautifully penned renewal vows to me, I thought I misheard the last line: “And how could I not buy the 911 girl the Porsche of her dreams?” Gasps of surprise washed over the close gathering of family that were there for the ceremony. I don’t think they could quite believe his words either.
Later, having signed the certificate, posed for the obligatory photos and comforted my father and mother-in-law, who by now were in floods of tears, I asked Dan if he was joking. He wasn’t. I only bought him a set of personalised cuff links for his wedding present!
As you’re reading a BMW magazine, I’m assuming you’re wondering why I’m talking about Porsches. After five or so years of being editor of this very title, I went on to head Total 911. Having driven and owned cars from the Bavarian stable for eight years, it was a strange transition going to a rear-engined layout, but after getting used to the driving style I began to fall in love with them.
Despite my new affair I remained loyal to the Blue and White Roundel, having bought another E36 M3 Evo (which was sadly short-lived after it was written off just a few months into ownership) followed by my Z4 2.5 Convertible. Not only that, but I had also managed to persuade Dan to trade in his Jaguar XFR for a 1M Coupé – this is a petrolhead who had previously refused to even drive a BMW, never mind buy one.
So, it’s fair to say that I was not totally converted to the way of Stuttgart, and while I always had a dream to own a 911 before I was 35, I decided that an E92 M3 should at least be in the running for when we went car shopping. And that’s exactly what we had lined up to drive one Saturday – that and a 997 Carrera 4. We went to nearby specialist Paragon Porsche in East Sussex, who had one in the exact spec that I wanted. Being back behind the wheel of a 911 again felt good and I was positively beaming after our test drive. Dan however, had his doubts, as he did when we weighed up the 1M against a 997 Turbo.
“It feels too light at the front end and it doesn’t turn in properly, it’s almost as if you’re steering from the throttle. It doesn’t give me confidence to push it like an M car does,” he complained. I tried to justify it by explaining that the Porsche is a totally different machine and that when you got accustomed to it, it was still as rewarding. He retorted that you shouldn’t have to get used to it, and that a BMW is instantly intuitive. He was right, of course.
And so it was with much anticipation that we headed to Munich Legends to test drive a Frozen grey E92 M3. The last time I drove one of these was some years ago when Joel Newman (my then features writer) and I had a convertible on test for a week – I recall that between us we spent a few hundred quid in fuel, such was our enjoyment of the car.
The owner of Munich Legends took us out first before handing us the keys and by God he showed us the capabilities of the car, and indeed his own talents. The sound of the V8, the acceleration, its willingness to let go of the rear end; I loved it and almost felt guilty for wanting a Porsche. It was by far the better car – in terms of handing, performance, practicality, and it was quite a few grand cheaper, too.
Sadly, that particular car wasn’t for me – I was unsure of the paint finish and despite having low mileage it had already been in to the dealership for some considerable engine work – which in my mind either meant it would never have problems again or it was jinxed; also it didn’t feel anywhere near as quick as it should be.
Mulling over it in a nearby country pub I decided to widen up my online search to 30 miles, determined to see another one that afternoon. Sure enough, up popped two Limited Edition 500 models from Cooper Croydon – I had totally forgotten about these. They came packed with £4000 worth of optional extras including gloss black 19-inch alloy wheels, sat nav, bespoke leather, piano black trim (with laser cut designation showing you’re driving one of the 500 models) and in three unique paint colours: Imola red, Mineral white or Santorini blue. I had already decided that it had to be blue – it’s the best colour in my opinion and really makes the car stand out. But as soon as I opened the door on the one at Croydon’s dealership and I saw the tan colour hide against the paintwork I knew it wasn’t right. Call me spoilt, but it seriously would bug me every time I got in it. Besides, if you’re going to shell out that sort of money it’s got to be right.
So, that very evening I did a search for one with black leather (which comes with blue stitching) on Autotrader and Pistonheads, and just one came up – it was at Prestige Performance in Yorkshire – some 234 miles from our home in Kent. The hubby wasn’t too happy about it, but some gentle female persuasion won him over and the next day we were heading up north in the Zed. The nine hour return journey was somewhat softened after he got to drive an Aston Martin Vantage V12 S – a simply astonishing car that blew us both away.
The M3 was perfect in every way and a few weeks later it was trailered to our home – a day I’ll never forget, and second best to my wedding day. I must confess that in some ways I wish had the Porsche – only because Dan loves the M3 so much that he’s in the driving seat far too much for my liking! It’s a great all-rounder, and with two young stepsons, it’s the perfect daily. Suffice to say the Z4, is now gone as she was surplus to requirements somewhat – and while I miss her, especially (as I write this) with the recent heatwave we’ve been having, any hint of sadness instantly turns to feelings of elation when I hear that V8. Talking of which, I already have plans in the pipeline to enhance that fabulous sound – stay posted.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.